Cartoonist has met the enemy and he is us
The social media scolds bagged some big game last week, extracting an apology from cartoonist Michael de Adder for an innocuous cartoon (above).
The cartoonist was calling out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cronies for their treatment of former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould.
A boxing ring was the perfect setting, because Trudeau gained notoriety as an amateur boxer by knocking the stuffing out of domestic-assaulter Sen. Patrick Brazeau in a charity match.
So far, so good, but de Adder made the mistake of portraying JWR as gagged and bound, symbolizing the fact she was (maybe) legally gagged by solicitor-client privilege and (perhaps) bound by cabinet solidarity. I don’t feel bad for de Adder. He dishes it out and he should be able to take it. But I can’t help wondering about the scolds.
Their reaction is pretty much summed up here in a Tweet that appears to be from John Cleese.
Well, de Adder’s drawing wasn’t doing that. If you enjoy violence against any gender, I recommend the entertainment industry, including best-selling books.
Below are some possible explanations for de Adder’s scolds.
• Because they interact with him on Twitter, de Adder has become an extension of their egos. With this cartoon, he has damaged those egos and must be brought into line.
• The cartoonist is part of an “elite.” This offends those who believe themselves to be intellectually or socially superior. They, like the rich, believe they have achieved their status through merit. By contrast, they see de Adder is a one-trick pony, unworthy of his status. He must therefore be humbled.
• Think of it as psychosomatic, a restricted vision caused by existential adherence to beliefs or causes. The scolds can only see the lower left corner of de Adder’s drawing, causing them to believe the artist is making light of violence against women.
• Others can see the entire cartoon, but cannot grasp its context.
• Or, they are aware of the context but choose to ignore it because willful blindness enhances their cause.
• This is closely related to the propagandist tactic of erecting a straw man and attacking it with full force. In this way, one can inspire outrage against de Adder without having to address substance.
• The above tactic is typically supported by constant reinforcement lest the targets get a chance to think for themselves. For this, Twitter is the best tool in the box.
• De Adder is a journalist, and journalists are seen by many as know-nothing, would-be intellectuals. But even would-be intellectuals, we’re told, are enemies of the people and common sense. Therefore they must humbled. (See Stephen Harper, Donald Trump, the Khmer Rouge et al.) NB: I say this with greatest respect for the broader know-nothing community, which has always been a source of fellowship and inspiration.
Lastly, de Adder is a threat to authoritarians from the entire political spectrum. So, in time, he may regret his insouciance still more. Let us hope his apology will be enough to keep his head from sitting atop a pike or rolling into a wicker basket designed by Louis Vuitton.